(Photo: Paramount Pictures)
I’ve never been an overpacker. Hearing “That’s all you brought?!” from skeptical bellmen fills me with a certain pride. Yet somehow I often return home from a trip to find (for shame!) a tee or two I didn’t wear.
That’s why my new goal is not only to pack a small bag for myself, but a shared suitcase that holds clothes for my partner as well. The less luggage, the less to lug, right?
With one bag, we’d save money on check fees (and never pay overage) while saving time at baggage claim. With one bag we could trade off dragging it through crowded transit and stress less about finding space for it overhead bins or the trunk. Best of all, with one bag we wouldn’t face the temptation to overpack.
But just how minimalist can you get when it comes to your carry on?
I consulted the pros — OneBag.com’s Doug Dyment and Anne McAlpin, travel expert from AAA of Oregon and Idaho — for actionable tips on how to minimize luggage and reach packing nirvana. A shared suitcase may not be a solution for every traveler, but more efficient packing is a skill everyone can benefit from.
Make Your Packing More Efficient
Divide up bag space evenly. Women might need room for make-up, but men’s clothes are bulkier. Dyment says they should balance each other out during the packing process. Make concessions on essentials, rather than physical space.
Pack women’s shoes inside men’s shoes. They’ll fit like a glove, says McAlpin.
Only one iPad, please. McAlpin suggests investing in a headphone splitter rather than lugging two devices. Unless you’re an iAddict or doing work, you’ll never miss it.
Learn how to “inter-layer.” McAlpin takes a cue from packing cubes, without any additional items to purchase. First, pack heavy items on the bottom and then fill the top with lighter things. “Make a divider out of a plastic placemat [so the top layer] easily lifts out,” she explains.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Reduce Your Load
Share as many items as you can. Toothpaste, sunscreen, hairspray, hats — even clothing! (Big bonus if you’re a same-sized and/or same-sex couple.) Dyment says to evaluate exactly what each person needs and try to avoid doubling up on anything.
Carry a small handheld digital scale. It’s a great way to ensure you’re not over the 50lb weight limit, McAlpin advises — especially if you plan on adding any shopping to that packed-to-the-gills bag.
Make sure you can both manage carrying it. Dyment says it defeats the purpose of packing light if your one bag is too heavy for either of you.
Prepare for the Worst
Keep a back up. Dyment points out that one major downside to a one-bag solution is what happens if it gets lost or stolen — now you’re both out clothes. So be sure to throw a clean shirt or a change of underwear into that carry-on just in case.
Benjamin Solomon regularly contributes to Vanity Fair, New York, and Travel + Leisure and will be spending the summer reporting from Colorado as #VailBen. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @benjaminsolomon.